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2004 Minter Field Air Museum "Warbirds in Action" Airshow
Shafter, California
May 8, 2004
Airshow Photo Report
Story and photos by: Victor Archer

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Although officially dedicated on Saturday, February 7, 1942, operations on Minter Field actually began in June of 1941 with the stationing of a small guard unit. By early August 1941, multiple units began moving onto the field and construction of wooden buildings to house them accelerated.

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By October 1941, the field, named in honor of local resident WWII veteran First Lieutenant Hugh C. Minter, had been established as a branch of the Sacramento Air Depot.

By July of 1942, Minter Field had become the largest training base of its type on the West Coast, with nine additional auxiliary landing fields in the valley. During the course of the War, more than 11,000 Army Air Corps Cadets graduated from Minter Field, deploying around the world to fly in all theaters of operations.

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Today, Minter Field is civilian airport serving the agricultural community of Kern County, it bears little resemblance to its roots as a United States Army Air Corps base. The history of the area is brought back to life each year when the Minter Field Air Museum hosts its gathering of flying military history at the airport, "Warbirds in Action".

The 2004 airshow was held on the 59 anniversary of V-E Day and started at 11:01 a.m. in honor of the unconditional surrender of German Forces at 11:01 p.m. May 8, 1945.

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The show started with former Reno Air racer, Eddie Van Fossen and current air racer, Al Goss flying a tight formation in their T-6’s while J.R. Smith pulled a banner with the American flag in his bright yellow Stearman.

Up next were the light trainers. There were five planes in this group.

A beautiful PT-17 in Yellow USN colors, another very nice looking PT-17 in silver and blue, bright red WACO UPF-7, Fairchild PT-26 and a highly polished RYAN PT-22. The 805th Navion Squadron was next to fly. They had a group of four in formation.

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It was non-stop flying for most of the afternoon. As one group would get ready to come in the next was taking off. Next a pair of Cessna L-19 Birddogs and a little trainer I had never heard of before a Varga Kachina made a few laps around the field.

Just after the Birddogs had cleared the runway Rob Harrison went up in his Zilin 50 for a short aerobatic performance. Before he could land Eddie Van Fossen and Al Goss were already up. This next group was quite interesting. The program had this listed as the heavy trainers; four T6’s a Nanchang CJ-6A and a beautifully restored 1943 Beech D17S Stagger Wing. More trainers then went up, two T-34 Mentors and a T-28 Trojan.

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Now for one of the highlights of the day, a flight demonstration of the F4U Corsair and the A6M2 Zero! Everyone was waiting to see these two fly. They made a few nice passes and then a little dogfight scene. It was really something to watch as the Corsair repositioned it’s self several times looking for that perfect shot.

More fighters! The other big highlight of the day five Mustangs and a Centaurs powered Sea Fury. It was great to see that many Mustangs flying at one time. Almost like Reno in fact most of these planes have been to Reno at one time or another. Dan Martins Ridge Runner and the Sea Fury once raced as number 33 in the 1967 race. Straw Boss 2, Man O’ War, Comfortably Numb and another Mustang were all in this group.

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The big planes got a turn; a Howard 250 (Lockheed 18 Loadstar) and a B-25 went up for a few passes. Time flies when you’re having fun. The last performance of the day Rob Harrison went up in his Zilin 50 this time for the long version of his aerobatic performance.

With the flying over for the day I needed to pick up a souvenir or two for my boy and me, so I headed over to the Warlock trailer and got myself a hat and a shirt. I met Randy Goss (son of Warlock pilot All Goss) there and he let my son Jeff sit in the pilot’s seat of the Warlock T6 definitely the highlight of his day!

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Minter is a great little place to go and there are always a lot of warbirds to see. Not too many people, easy to get in and out of and surrounded by aviation history. This is one airshow that I will go back to.

The 2005 Minter Field Air Museum "Warbirds in Action" Airshow will be held Saturday, May 14. Gates Open at 8AM, with the show beginning at 11AM and lasting until 4PM. Admission for adults is $12. Students (6-17) is $6. and children under six years of age are FREE!

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The show is held at the Minter Field Air Museum, 401 Vultee Ave. Shafter, CA 93263 (661) 393-0291. The site is approximately twelve miles north of Bakersfield, California.

For further information, visit the website for this show, located at: http://www.minterfieldairmuseum.com/

Story and photography by: Victor Archer

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